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Real Heights: MTC captures stunning images of near space

The MTC Differential Equations class first launched a high-altitude weather balloon in 2014 that captured stunning images of near space. Each semester, students execute the project, which includes researching, planning, designing, and launching the high-altitude weather balloon more than 100,000 feet in the air.From planning, design, launch, and retrieval, this project wouldn’t have been possible without funding from the MTC Foundation.

Devin Henson, an MTC math instructor at the time, initiated and completed the inaugural 2014 balloon launch project. The high-altitude balloon was launched from the MTC Northeast Campus and landed about 45 miles away in Sumter, S.C.

“In a class like differential equations, the lessons can seem a little abstract. I thought it would be helpful for the students to see some of their mathematics come to life. In this project, they were able to measure velocity, acceleration, and drag. It is a critical course for engineering students,” said Henson.

“The balloon reached heights of around 100,000 feet, temperatures of minus 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and speeds of 70 mph. It captured stunning images in the atmospheric region called near space,” Henson continued.

This first-of-its-kind project at MTC was only possible with full funding from the MTC Foundation. From the GoPro camera that captured the stunning images, to the balloon that floated into near space, the Foundation helped provide all of the tools for the launch project. Students launching balloon into space

“Now, when each semester starts, the students ask if they will get to do the project too,” said Henson, who is the now MTC Director of Online Teaching and Learning. MTC instructor John Long has taken over the project. His students most recently launched the high-altitude balloon this past Fall semester."

Watch the video, and read more about the inaugural MTC balloon launch.